Haskell students say guidelines limit lunch

by: Michelle Linn Updated:

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HASKELL, Okla. - Skimpy school lunches because of federal guidelines.  

Just a few weeks ago, FOX23 shared the story of a central Oklahoma family that was appalled at how little was on a girl's lunch tray.

Now some parents in Green Country say their kids are going hungry. Viewers sent photos of the lunches they said are being served at Haskell High School.

"It's mostly the portions," said Haskell High School senior Darrel Bunch.

"Last year we started getting less food," said Bunch.

His mother says it's gotten worse this year.

"Last year, my boys started calling me, 'Can you please bring me something to eat?' 'We’re still hungry,' or, 'This is gross," said Cheryl Bunch.

Her son snapped a photo of a chicken patty and a small scoop of mashed potatoes.

Another photo of a lunch from earlier this week has parents fired up.

It's a cheese-filled bread stick and marinara sauce.

"A bread stick and a thing of marinara sauce? You call that a lunch?," said Jerilyn Shearer.

"When they serve a bread stick and marinara, it’s like, 'Here, I’ve given up on trying to find you something nutritious and healthy,'" said Bunch.

FOX23’s Michelle Linn posted the photos on her FOX23 Facebook page  and got dozens of comments.

Haskell mother Jerilyn Shearer said her daughter isn't the only teenager not getting enough to eat at school.

"She comes home eating everything that she can because she’s hungry, and all the kids are going home hungry," said Shearer.

Linn wanted to go to lunch to see what $2 would buy, but even without a FOX23 photographer, the school district would not allow her inside the building.

"My food bill doesn’t go down between summer and school now. When they’re home from school, I expect my food bill to be high, but it just kind of stays there now," said Bunch.

FOX23 asked Haskell Superintendent Sharon Herrington for an interview, but she would not go on camera.

She did talk to Linn over the phone.

Herrington told FOX23 the photos sent to the station do not tell the whole story.

At lunch, students are offered five items. They must take three, and one must be a fruit or vegetable.

But students told Linn there are no choices, when it comes to fruit.

Officials said on Tuesday, the day the bread stick and marinara meal was served; they were also given a banana.

They also said the salad bar only offers iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and broccoli, and it's not fresh.

FOX23 wanted to go inside and view the salad bar, but officials did not allow it.

"I don’t really eat the salad bar, because most of the time the cucumbers or broccoli or everything like that looks old," said Haskell High School senior Pepper Thomas.

Herrington told FOX23 it has been an adjustment for students to get used to the federal calorie restrictions.

The district must serve whole grains, so that means they don't serve white bread anymore.

Their popular biscuits and gravy breakfasts are gone this year because gravy is not healthy.

"I said it once, but I’ll say it again: I don’t think it’s the school’s fault, it’s these federal guidelines that we’ve been given and we’re making the best that we can out of," said student Darrel Bunch.

"I like the idea of a dietician or a nutritionist. I’m sure there are parents here in Haskell who could give their input on how to make these meals better, if the school would be open to working with them," said Cheryl Bunch.